As the infection rate from the mosquito-borne virus continues to increase throughout Central and South America, scientists warn that contracting the dangerous Chikungunya virus can lead to encephalitis, and even death.
Even though it doesn’t lead to death in many cases, the virus is anything but a breeze, as it leads to other serious, perhaps even life-threatening issues.
Over 1 million people being infected each year all over Latin America, the painful virus is expanding its hold over the Americas, with cases being reported as far as Florida.
The virus’ name, Chikungunya, comes from the African language of Makonde, spoken usually in Mozambique, and it translates to “it bends up”. This refers to the tremendous amount of pain people affected by the virus are usually in, with them usually contorting with pain.
Even though the virus only appeared in the Western hemisphere at the end of 2013, it has already reached an alarming average of 1 million people infected each year, and about 120 people die after contracting the fatal virus.
This year, so far at least, the numbers have slightly dropped compared to 2013 and 2015, with 600,000 reported infected so far, and only 76 deaths.
Although previously considered less dangerous, recent findings show that after contracting the virus, the chance of developing encephalitis increases by alarming rates.
Even if encephalitis was more likely to affect senior citizens and infants, an alarming number of cases have been shown to affect adults, with 8.6 people out of 100,000 developing the condition.
The rate by which encephalitis occurs in infants is 187 per 100,000 cases, while for elderly citizens over 65, it was 37 per 100,000 cases.
With the enormous number of infected, things are looking grim for anyone travelling to the areas populated by the carrier mosquitoes.
The numbers are much higher than all recorded cases of encephalitis recorded in the United States, even higher than those reported during the West Nile virus epidemic between 1999 and 2007.
Currently, no vaccine is available to protect against the dangerous threat that is the Chikungunya virus, although one is in development. In the meanwhile, authorities advise to either avoid traveling to areas where cases of the virus have been reported, or to take all possible measures to avoid mosquito bites.
What do you think about the dangerous virus wreaking havoc throughout the Americas? Do you think you’re safe? What measures are you taking to protect yourself from a potential infection?
Please share your thoughts with us below.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org